In the month of April, thirty teen volunteers came together for GOAL (Giving Open Access to Learning), a monthly after school program on Saturdays for kindergartners through 8th graders in East Harlem. This outreach is funded by Disney Foundation and Con Agra as part of the What Will You Bring to the Table? Initiative.
The young participants partook in a national initiative outreach program called What Will You Bring to the Table?, led by teen volunteers, that explored ways of ending childhood hunger, food insecurity and poor nutrition. The teen volunteers led the young participants in a range of activities addressing this topic, including urban gardening to improve access to healthy produce, the economic and health benefits of shopping and cooking at home, and the exploration of available healthy food in their neighborhoods.
In addition, there were five projects (listed below) that the young participants rotated through for a comprehensive day of learning about how reducing food waste, cooking at home, eating healthy and locally, and increasing urban agriculture programs can help us to fight childhood hunger in the United States because 1 in 5 is at risk of child hunger in the U.S.
1. Composting – Learning to waste less and reuse more. Each group built their own small compost unit complete with worms.
2. Soil Techniques – Planting lettuce seeds in compost enriched soil can make for healthier soil, and in return produce healthier plants. The current decline in food quality is due to poor commercial farming practices.
3. Harvesting – Each participant removed a small lettuce from a planter, examined and learned about how lettuce grows, its nutritional value, and then cleaned and used their lettuce to prepare a salad.
4. Food Preparation – All participants helped to make a salad that everyone shared at lunch.
5. Shopping/Cooking Healthy – All students “shopped” at a market table for ingredients for two healthy meals, added up the prices and compared the cost per person of cooking at home to buying a Big Mac Meal at McDonald’s.
Lastly, to top off this exciting educational and recreational program on healthy eating practices, our participants created a What Will You Bring to the Table? banner. Every student helped set our “table” of ideas for reducing childhood hunger by writing or drawing their own action plan on a paper plate and bringing it to the table.